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University News

A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope

Hispanic Heritage/LatinX Month events honor a diverse and dynamic Latinx community

Posted in: Hispanic Initiatives, Homepage News, University

large group of student holding an array of flags from Latin countries
Members of Montclair State’s Hispanic/Latinx community gather at the start of "Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope."

With poetry, a parade, pride and joy, the University ushered in Hispanic Heritage/LatinX Month on September 15 with a flag-raising ceremony celebrating Hispanic heritage and hope.

Speakers recognized the strength drawn from Montclair State’s diverse community. “Our university would not be what it is if not for Latina, Latino and Latinx students. Your presence, your dedication, your belief … aspirations, joy and style make this institution what it is,” said Latinx/a/o Caucus President and English Professor Johnny Lorenz.

student holding Haitian flag
This year’s theme, “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope,” explained the event’s organizer LASO Advisor Carmen Reyes-Cuevas, assistant director for Educational Opportunity Fund Program, “invites us to celebrate Hispanic heritage and to reflect on how great our tomorrow can be if we hold on to resilience and hope.”

Montclair State enrolls more Hispanic and Latinx undergraduates than any other New Jersey higher ed institution – 30 percent of this year’s freshman class identify as Hispanic – and the University is nationally recognized as an Hispanic-Serving Institution.

The designation reflects the University’s commitment “to creating an environment where you can feel you belong, where you succeed, and where you thrive,” said Associate Provost for Hispanic Initiatives and International Programs Katia Paz Goldfarb.

parade of students and staff carrying flags representing various Latin countries
Associate Provost for Hispanic Initiatives and International Programs Katia Paz Goldfarb, front right, leads students, faculty and staff in a parade to mark the beginning of Hispanic Heritage/LatinX Month.

“These past 19 months have been a test of our resiliency and strength,” Goldfarb said, a nod to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disprortionate health, economic and academic toll on the Hispanic and Latinx communities. “Hope is the last thing we should lose. But hope alone is not enough.”

A studen delivers prepared remarks
Jaileen Murillo, a junior Anthropology major, recites Tato Laviera’s poem Spanglish. “I truly felt the ‘orgullo’ or pride of the Latinx community on campus,” she said.
staff member speaks to the assembled crowd
Geraldo Jimenez, a senior repairer for Montclair State Facilities, recited poetry in Spanish.

Students draped themselves in colorful flags in respect to the histories, cultures and contributions of their families from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. They listened to poems recited in Spanish by Geraldo Jimenez, a senior repairer in University Facilities, and in Spanglish by Jaileen Murillo, a member of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and junior Anthropology major.

In a proclamation read by Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Dawn Soufleris said the “richness and vitality” of the Latin American and Spanish cultures “have had a profound and positive influence” on the campus and more broadly throughout the country.

staff and students stand together holding flags, the flags of Venezuela and Uruguay in the foreground.
Members of the campus community proudly displayed flags in respect to the histories and cultures of their families.

The dates of National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15, are significant, as the time period includes independence day celebrations in many Latin American countries, an opportunity, said LASO President John Jimenez, a senior majoring in Marketing, for a month-long celebration “inclusive of all the cultures, their dances, their spices, their colors.”

two students in attendance holding up the flag of Mexico
The flag-raising ceremony was the first in a series of in-person and virtual events planned.

The opening event was organized by the Latinx/a/o Caucus, The Office of Hispanic Initiatives and International Programs, and LASO. Other special events will include:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2 – 3 p.m. The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities /Google Information Session: Internships and Careers at Google. Via Zoom | RSVP.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 29, 3 – 4 p.m. Internships and Entry Level Career Opportunities with Valley Bank. Via Zoom | RSVP.
  • Thursday, Sept. 30, 6 – 7:30 p.m. Equity in the Latinx Community Webinar Series. Part 1 via Zoom | RSVP. Presented by the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, in partnership with Latinxs in Sustainability, the series will showcase four Latinx professionals in the sustainability industry.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2 – 3 p.m. A conversation with Bill Tipacti, Director of Community Empowerment at Univision: COVID19 – How the Spanish language television network informed Hispanic communities during the pandemic. The event, co-sponsored with the School of Communication and Media, will take place in Presentation Hall.
  • Saturday, Oct. 9, 4 – 6 p.m. Homecoming Tailgate Party with the Hispanic/Latinx Alumni Network (must be 21+) $20 admission includes admission, a $5 donation to the Fund for Montclair State, beer garden, live music and raffle ticket. Register.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13 Hispanic Heritage Month Block Party to celebrate the University’s fifth year as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Student Center Quad/Ballrooms.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13, 6 p.m. Latin American Female Leaders at the United Nations via Zoom | RSVP. The ambassadors of Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic will talk about their experiences and challenges as female diplomats and how they rose to top leadership positions at the United Nations. The event will be moderated by Anthropology Professor Katherine McCaffrey. This event is organized by the Department of Political Science and Law, in collaboration with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Office for Hispanic Initiatives.
  • Thursday, Oct 28, 6 – 7:30 p.m. Equity in the Latinx Community Webinar Series. Part 2 via Zoom | RSVP. Lupita Montoya from the University of Colorado on how Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people in the United States are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with higher mortality rates, and more economic fallout and educational setbacks.

Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren. Photos by University Photographer Mike Peters.

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